The coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico
The coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico

Why We’re Traveling So Much

We’re currently on our way to Austin, TX. Yes we were in Los Angeles in January. Yes we were just on a cruise of the Southern Caribbean last week. Yes we’re not only going to Austin, but also to San Antonio. And yes after returning home from Texas we’re heading right back out to Orlando, FL.

When we were in Grenada visiting Chrissy we were talking about our travels and the inevitable question came up. “Why are you traveling so much?”

It’s a very good question. One that deserves a thorough response. So of course I said, “Because we can.” She really seemed to like that answer, but honestly there’s more to why we travel in general and specifically why we’re traveling so much right now.

An Escape

Travel isn’t an escape for us. We’re not traveling to get away from anything or anyone at home because, honestly, home is great. We love where we live, we love what we do and we love our little cat (yes our family and friends too, but we only got Echo in August. He’s still got the new car cat smell) ;)

So the reason we travel is in no way a means for escape, although I know that for some people it is. The thing is that I previously never understood why people would choose to spend their money on travel when they could instead save up and buy something tangible, like a nice car or a home. That is, until I started traveling.

That’s when I quickly started to see the benefits of minimalism (I only travel with a single carry-on backpack) and fully realized, when I didn’t need anything but what was on my back, that owning more doesn’t build a life worth living, doing does.

Well the Chicago winters aren’t something that I look forward to so our default setting is to seek a warm destination, but the reason we’re taking so many trips in such a short period of time right now has very little to do with warm weather, but instead stems from opportunity.

Why Austin, Why Now?

It was the afternoon on one day at the end of January and I’m plugging away at the computer when James IMs me. Now I talk to James on most days, usually about work, but also just to chat. Well today was different. James feverishly IMed with a purpose.

James: HEY, you there?!
Me: Yup
James: Are you and Marla going to SXSW? Peter’s going to come here and fly out with me and I want to get a bunch of people together to go.
Me: Um, we weren’t going to go, but we sure could!

You need to know a bit of the backstory on this one to get the magnitude of it all but here’s the gist of it.

  1. James has never shown her face online
  2. James hasn’t flown, due to a bad experience, in 12 years
  3. SXSWi is the biggest event of the year in our field and nearly everyone is going to be there
  4. The Men with Pens team has never all met face to face

So this was a big deal. James wanted to go, and was not only open to getting on a plane, but also open to going to SXSW and show her face. We were shocked so Marla promptly scoured Airbnb while I got a feel for availability of reward flights.

By the end of the following evening we had our flights booked, accommodations booked and a house full of people coming along for the ride.

Needless to say we were stoked, and still are! But that brings me to the main reason for this sudden burst of traveling (3 trips in a 1 1/2 month span). The main reason that we’re traveling so much right now is because of opportunity.

We enjoy traveling, seeing new places and experiencing new things, so you’ll be hard pressed to find us turning down travel when an opportunity presents itself.

If you follow along here regularly you know that our previous trip was a last minute (planned a week ahead of time) cruise of the Southern Caribbean. We saw an opportunity and went with it.

San Antonio is relatively close to Austin, so after SXSW we’re going to head (down, up, over?) to San Antonio for an opportunity to visit my cousins for the first time in their Texas home.

And finally our trip to Orlando is also a result of opportunity. Marla’s mom has a timeshare that they’re renting out with room to spare so we were offered a place to stay and we were on our way for another trip.

Friendly Skies

Really looking at it though our reason for traveling so much right now goes much deeper than simply opportunity alone. The major reason for both our cruise and our trip to Austin is a result of the opportunity to spend time with friends.

The major selling point of our cruise, even beyond the crazy deal, was that we were able to visit Chrissy in Grenada. Currently we only get to see Chrissy, who’s one of our closest friends, during her summer and winter breaks. Being able to affordably get out to her island is a no brainer. We’ll do it again if the opportunity arises.

And Austin for SXSW? Exactly the same reason. We have zero interest in SXSWi, the conference. We don’t even have tickets to the event. However we’re not alone. From everything I hear, the majority of SXSW’ers, at least the ones who’ve been there before, never buy tickets to the event.

SXSW is so much more than a conference. It’s instead a reason for influencers (and the rest of us) who know and respect each other on the web to gather in the same place at the same time. In most cases, SXSW is the only time many people will see each other all year long. It’s quite a big deal.

And to top things off, I had a little idea that I’m quite proud of. As a part of James’ unmasking we’re also throwing a Men with Pens shindig. We’re currently at capacity so I’m sorry to bring it up if you want to get in now, but it’s a little thank you to our readers at Men with Pens who will get to be some of the first people ever to meet James face to face (the rest of us too, but let’s be honest everyone wants to see James) :)

So I guess it could be said that our reason for travel stems from opportunity, but more importantly this current burst of travel stems from the opportunity to spend time with friends. So while we’re in Austin we’ll be meeting a lot of people, but if you’re going to be there we’d love to meet up with you too. So if you want to meet up shoot us a message on Twitter and let us know! :)

Travel is wonderful because we enjoy it. And we are extremely grateful to have the opportunity to travel as much as we can. But travel isn’t the end all be all. Travel isn’t the goal, it’s the path. It’s what we use as a tool to create lives worth living.

Have you ever really thought about your reasons for travel? Let us know why you travel in the comments.

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Comments

  1. First of Jeff I am very jealous of you and the rest of the MwPs crew hanging with James at SxSw. But I will move on from that to answer your question.

    I travel for many reasons, but first and foremost I travel because my parents opened the world up to me on my first overseas trip at 7 years and from then I haven’t looked back. I love to travel to meet people, see places but really more to learn more about myself. Whilst I love my city and my home it is easy to get lazy, and travel shakes that all up.

    In 2003 I travelled overseas by myself to run away from my life. I wasn’t happy with my lifestyle of my decisions so I thought travel would be cheaper and more interesting then seeing a Shrink. After 8 weeks in Canada I had sorted myself out, and 3 months later I was back in Brisbane and back in control.

    Now I travel with my family and daughter and I want her to see travel the way we do – as a sense of adventure and a way to learn not just about other people and cultures but more about yourself.

    Enjoy the trips

    Ainslie

    • That’s really cool that your parents took you on your first world travels so young! It definitely does plant a seed that makes you want to do it more & more.

      I’m hoping we can continue our travels for a very long time, and if we broaden our family to include a little one (which is currently not anytime in the near future), I definitely don’t plan to stop :)